A mind melting new video from Tokyo’s progressive audio visual collective
October 17, 2011
Exploring craft and colour with the gifted illustrator
- Text by Emi Kameoka
Born to a German father and a Japanese mother, Niky Roehreke naturally gets inspired from both cultures. Her extraordinary sense of colour, craft and delicate touch make her illustrations truly unique.
Satellite Voices: Can you introduce yourself?
Niky Roehreke: I was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and German father. I went to a German school in Tokyo from kindergarten till high-school graduation. I graduated with a bunch of people I've been in the same class since kindergarten… when I think of it now that's kind of crazy. So after graduation I had to escape that 'small German world' I've lived in most of my life and travelled around Japan while working part-time, that was a fun time. Then I moved to London in 2005 to go to the Graphic Design course at Central Saint Martins. After graduation I went to New York for three months for an internship where I feel I learned more than those three years in college.
SV: Why did you start with illustration?
Niky Roehreke: I was never really good at expressing myself through words and always looked for other ways. When I was younger I used to dance ballet, I was so fascinated by the fact that a dancer can say so much solely through body movement. But I had to quit ballet at the age of 17 and started to dream about becoming a costume and fashion designer. Then during college I thought I'll be a graphic designer or a filmmaker but after graduation I finally I realised that there are too many rules and regulations for me in fashion, graphic design or film that, at the end of the day just a piece of paper and pen gave me the feeling of freedom and most excitement due to infinite possibilities.
SV:Where do you normally get inspiration from?
Niky Roehreke: Going to flea markets, spending a day at a bookstore, the overhearing conversations at coffee shops or simply doodling in my sketchbook.
SV: Could you name some artists that you respect?
Niky Roehreke: I respect Okamoto Taro for the energy in his work, John Rombola's way of seeing, Sofia Coppola's distinctive atmosphere in her film, the compositions in Keiichi Tanaami's work.
SV: Can you talk about the hand-crafted methods you use?
Niky Roehreke: I like to draw hands because I think hands are an important way to communicate in this current hi-tech world. There are so many new ways to communicate but I think hands are still and will be the most direct and honest way. I want people to not forget the beauty of holding hands with someone or that making something with hands is so special and fun.
SV: Your work is special in that you use colours in your own way. What does colour means to you?
Niky Roehreke: This is an interesting question and recently my mum showed me some of my drawings and doodles I made when I was about five, and to my surprise I saw that the colours I picked at that time are the colours I still tend to use the most. I was actually quite shocked because I thought that my preferences are the outcome of my experience as an artist. Now I think that the colours one likes must be embedded in one's subconscious mind. I'm planning to research a little about that.
SV: How is it different from when you have to design animations?
Niky Roehreke: I love animation because it's simply so exciting that suddenly the things that I've drawn on paper start to move and become alive. But I hate the process of having to draw one image for a million times and during the process I always swear to myself that I will never make an animation ever again. But then when I see the outcome its so much fun that I forget the painful process. It's like giving birth.
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The independent art curator with an eye on the explosive development of East Asian art